Just when you thought we might get a break in talking about budgets and budget cuts, the President released a budget for the 2018 financial year this week, a more fleshed out version of the “skinny budget” released earlier this year. Congress, to its credit, largely ignored these proposals for severe cuts when it passed an omnibus spending bill for the balance of Fiscal 2017 (through September). The President’s recent budget continues to press for proposed cuts to the agencies that manage our public lands and waters. If Congress is going to act independently and ensure that our public lands have the funding they need, our lawmakers need to continue to feel the pressure to protect stewardship agencies and programs.
While the budget that the President proposes would have potentially devastating effects on public lands, wildfire funding, cornerstone conservation programs, maintenance, and staff, we’re heartened that Congress was willing to pass a more moderate spending bill a few weeks back.
Now that we have the details, what does the President’s budget propose?
- Big cuts (more than 80%!) to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of our best and most valuable conservation programs. This program funds the creation of new local, state, and public parks; funds trail maintenance; and supports “finishing” National Parks by ensuring they can buy or swap private land from willing sellers within their borders.
- Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling.
- Big cuts to Department of the Interior, which manages National Parks, BLM land, and other invaluable public lands.
- Big cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Agriculture, which oversees our National Forests.
Back in April, Congress seemed happy to go its own way on the budget, responding to the concerns of its constituents. We’re hopeful of a similar result as Congress works to pass a budget and appropriations bills this summer, but a lot of that depends on how much people speak out.
Take a moment to tell Congress how you’d like them to spend your tax dollars. We’ve made it easy with our simple tool: